By Christopher Skyi | Hubspot.com Certified, Google Analytics Certified, NYC, October 6, 2012
Marie Haynes penned a timely post on seomoz.org that hits the nail on the head: Are SEOs Destroying Small Businesses? A Penguin Story. Every small business owner who has been negatively hit with Google's algorithm changes over the last year and a half, Panda and Penguin updates especially, should immediately read her post.
In short, Google has declared all out thermonuclear WAR on bad SEO (i.e., SEO that goes beyond helping the search engines understand a site and crosses the line into trying to influence rankings purely through "seo techniques").Google has been very clear about what they expect from website owners and the SEO-ers they hire w/their published Google Webmaster Quality Guidelines. Google has also long published a guide specifically for SEO, how to do it, called "Search Engine Optimization Starters Guide." No business owner and no SEO-worker has any excuse not to be familiar with the guides -- this may sound harsh to many small business owners who already have so much on their plates on top of an economy that seems stuck in a very low gear, but if you think you don't have the time, ask yourself if you have to time to deal with these hits from Google's updates, and believe me, Bing soon will start rolling them out. 
If you're doing proper SEO, you won't even notice these updates. Effective SEO requires a bit a strategy, feedback from Google Analytics (or something else), and simple hard work.  Do that, and you'll see a steady and uninterrupted increase in traffic.  In every case I've seen, bad SEO as described above has been responsible for sites taking a heavy hit after these updates. Beware SEO firms "guaranteeing" specific rankings and other "too good to be true" promises. Along with SEOMoz, Hubspot has done a great job laying out best practices for SEO and how to measure progress.
If you've been hit by a recent Google algorithm update and wondering if you've been penalized, see Matt Cutts On Penalties Vs. Algorithm Changes
See also "Break Free of Bad SEO Advice ? Optimize for Customers"
See also: What Everyone Needs To Know About Good, Bad and Bland Links
And finally see: The Hidden Cost Of Cheap SEO
? 2012, Words Words SEO Words
VisitWordsWordsSEOWords.com - Helping small business owners diagnose reasons for traffic drops and increase their traffic through local, technical, and advanced SEO techniques  
VisitBlog - Internet Marketing, SEO&Copywriting | Insight&Guidance for Business Owners
ReadChristopher Skyi Business SEO
FollowTwitter.com/Christopher Skyi
Friend Me! Facebook.com/Christopher Skyi
Network w/Me! LinkedIn/Christopher Skyi